DIY

DIY Gallery Rail

Affordable Gallery Rail Made with Lamp Parts

I recently transformed my pantry from a forgotten nook hiding excess bags of marshmallows and hot cocoa to a show-stopping space. And guess what? Lamp parts played a starring role in my DIY gallery rail!

My pantry was in dire need of some TLC. But with a tight budget, splurging on fancy pre-made kits for a gallery rail or other storage solutions just wasn’t in the cards. Undeterred, I rolled up my sleeves and embarked on a DIY adventure that would breathe new life into this neglected space.

The pantry was already looking so good with the French Colony blue paint by Behr, faux shiplap, epoxy counter with the scallop apron, and curved u-shaped shelves but I wanted just one more thing. Enter the gallery rail!

Before

If you want to see the whole pantry project, check out this blog post.

Note: Affiliate shopping links are provided for your convenience. By shopping through the links on my site, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Supplies

$120 in lamp parts and shipping, $25 for the die kit on sale, $13 for dowel pins, $17 for replacement lamp parts and shipping.

Grand total: $175

Compared to $600 + for all the same parts from this retailer that I LOVE but just didn’t have the budget for.

Step-by-Step DIY Gallery Rail

1. PREP

Measuring correctly is KEY. I messed this step up and, instead of ordering a new size, decided to cut and rethread my rods. I know, I know that sounds like more work than it’s worth but there are a few things you need to know about me. I’m stubborn and will make it work, I didn’t want to pay for shipping (again!), and I was in the mood to do this project… if I took a break, it was never going to happen.

When measuring, keep in mind that a straight run is easy. Turning a corner at 90 degrees is easy. Attempting to bend metal because your shelves are curved is not easy. If you are crazy like me though, you can see how I did it – just keep reading.

If you decide to include a 90-degree turn, remember that you are insetting the rail by 1/2″ so your rod lengths might differ from the actual shelf dimensions.

2. Assemble

Screw the armbacks into the necks and screw the rods into the armbacks. Once you have the unit assembled, set the unit up where you like and trace the base circle with a pencil.

Try to find the exact center of the necks. I did this by guessing and drawing multiple lines with a pencil until I found a spot that felt right. Center the drill and go down 1/2″. It is really important to go down perfectly straight so that the posts arent tilted.

Tip: add tape to your drill bit at the 1/2″ mark so that you know when to stop.

I am a firm believer that all mistakes are fixable. I accidentally drilled through the shelves twice but it’s nothing some bondo woodfiller can’t fix. I accidentally had some crooked posts, so I took the drill bit and moved it around in the hole until it enlarged just big enough to straighten… see? Easy fix!

3. Dowel Pins

Keep the gallery rail unit mostly assembled by just removing all the necks.

I used the same system to drill 1/2″ down into a scrap piece of wood. Use a rubber mallet to secure the 3/8″ dowel pins into the new hole. Line up the neck and hammer down with the rubber mallet. The straighter you line it up, the easier it is to shove the wood dowel into this brass neck. You want the brass to be fully seated so that you cannot see the dowel anymore.

4. Done!

Reattach the necks and secure them into the holes on the shelves! You can add glue and clamp if you need to.

You’re done! It’s a super easy DIY if you know which lamp parts to order.

IF YOU HAVE TO CUT

This is where things get more complicated. We used an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel to cut the brass. I recommend cutting through tape to keep the cut clean. Make sure the cut is not angled. You could always put it up against the side of the wheel while spinning. Be careful with this though and don’t push too hard. Brass is pretty soft so it won’t take much.

The cutting part was the easy part. Now you need to re-thread your rod. Grand Brass Lamp Parts has their own 1/8 ips die (that’s the threading device you need) but we got a whole kit from Amazon because of free overnight shipping.

It is really hard to twist a straight brass rod into the die without leverage. To get leverage, use the assembled post (ball armback + neck) by screwing it onto the rod to give you something to hold onto. This will PERMANENTLY secure your rod into the armback.

I made the mistake of using an ‘end’ piece instead of the piece that I actually needed and had to reorder some parts because the two pieces became inseparable. I used wd-40, my husband, and my freezer, and those pieces could not be separated. From then on, I used only the armback that I was supposed to use for the leverage pieces.

METAL BENDING

So you’re crazy? Welcome, you’re in good company here.

We started by using our hole saw to cut a piece of hardwood to the diameter we needed. You can do a half circle with a jigsaw if you don’t have a hole saw. Secure the circle into a strong vice. This needs to be really secure because you will be exerting a lot of manual force on it.

For better leverage, we inserted a screwdriver into each end of the rod and used the force of my husband’s arms to bend over the circle. Work in small spurts of force slowly over the circle to avoid kinking the metal. I was able to do one so with the right leverage you can too!

We attempted heating the brass for easier bending but that discolors it pretty badly so I do not recommend that.

I tried to math my way into finding the correct length rod but it didn’t work out. Just order something longer than you need and follow the above set for cutting the brass once you have the curve shape that you want.

FAQ

What is a gallery rail?

Also called tipping rail/shelf rail/fiddler rail/fiddle rail, is a mounting close to the edge of a shelf or cabinet to prevent items from falling or sliding off. It can also be used as a decorative detail.

How to do a gallery rail?

You can install it with a wood dowel pin like I show above so that you don’t have a screwhead visible under your shelves. Depending on what hardware you use, there is a screw option to secure from below. The inexpensive DIY gallery rail that I showed above would require a very large bolt so I don’t recommend that method for this.

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